Parents: Baby is off to college- now what?

group of casual students at universityFor parents and students alike, college is an exciting and new experience. Parents pack the minivan, sign the tuition bill, and hope for the best for their child in their new environment. After meeting the roommate, making the child’s bed for the final time, and pushing the tears away; parents are left with an empty nest as they return home.

Parents are rewarded with new-found freedom once their child goes to college. They have time to develop hobbies or focus on their career, instead of attending orchestra concerts and baseball games every night of the week.

While parents have a new freedom in their home, they also face many challenges. Communication can be difficult to achieve with their college student.  They may also be feeling lonely, empty, and left out. If you are a parent feeling abandoned by their college freshman, below are five tips to consider to fill the void.

1. Redirect your energy. Take new interests in hobbies and helping out the local community. Some areas of your life may have been neglected while you were keeping up with your child’s busy schedule, take the time to focus on your own interests.

2. Reconnect with friends.Friendships are often hurt by the business of raising children. Drop an email or make a phone call to a new or old friend. Go out for dinner or have them over for coffee. Catch up and remember the good times you had with them. If they have a child in college, ask for tips and relate their experience to yours.

3. Be a parent. You will always be a parent to your child. Whether they are at college or living half way around the world, you are their parent. As they grow and mature, be an adult friend to your children. Relate to them. Discuss issues and keep up- to- date with their studies and social life. If they have concerns, discuss important issues with them. These issues can include academics, social life, sex, drugs, alcohol, and anything else. Be a friend and be a parent; as it is your new role as a parent of an adult.

4. If you’re not happy, change it. Independence is vital to every college student. They may ignore phone calls or emails as they try to pretend you do not exist. Do not accept that attitude. Chances are, you are paying the tuition and credit card bill. If you cannot get through to your child, stop the credit card for a week or two. Without a cash flow, they will be calling you instantly. Once they call, set rules and standards that they must follow. If you do not get a weekly phone call, they do not have access to the bank account for the week. You do not have to be so intense; however, open communication and be happy with your relationship with your college student.

5. Go on an adult vacation. You no longer have to drag your child and their friends along on your vacation. Take a weekend or as long as you can to relax on the beach or in the mountains. Visit a place you have always wanted to. Reward yourself for raising a well-rounded, educated child.

The college experience is new for parents and students. Keep communication open and be happy with the journey. College is an excellent time to build friendships and bonds as parent and child.

 

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